The Development of a White Paper on Enterprise


In July, 2022 the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) made a submission to the development of a White Paper on Enterprise, which this article summarises.

The public consultation document stated that the White Paper will explore several high-level policy questions including: ensuring enterprise growth policies are inclusive and the role of enterprise policy in further enhancing regional development; enterprise policy support for the Sustainable Development Goals; and the levers and mechanisms to deliver on enterprise policy objectives.

In a follow-up document to a workshop on inclusive entrepreneurship training held in April, the OECD noted that “Inclusive entrepreneurship policies seek to give everyone an opportunity to create a successful and sustainable business, regardless of their gender, age, place of birth, work status or other personal characteristics. Expanding entrepreneurship can create jobs, fight social and financial exclusion, leverage technologies and help respond to economic challenges. One of the most important tools used by governments to make entrepreneurship more inclusive is entrepreneurship training since there are important entrepreneurship skills gaps across the population.”

It will be absolutely critical that the White Paper on Enterprise commits to the development and realisation of inclusive entrepreneurship, which would be in keeping with the aim of Sustainable Development Goal 10 - to reduce inequality within and among countries.   

Of particular importance for the INOU is Sustainable Development Goal 8 which focuses on decent work and economic growth and aims to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

In 2020 the INOU ran a project on Decent Work (linked here) and amongst the matters raised are ones that are pertinent to the development of this White Paper, including:

  • Some of these issues arise from the challenges of low population density, but concerns were articulated that there is no plan to keep rural Ireland working, to decentralise jobs and industry. Participants felt that enterprise opportunities need to be shared around rural Ireland and not just centralised in Dublin, as one participant said: “it’s time to spread the joy”. (p19)
  • Other participants felt that social enterprises are very suitable for Travellers. It was noted that there are social enterprises that are Traveller-lead and have proved successful around the country, for example, Kingdom Furniture (Kerry), Bounce­Back Mattress Recycling (Galway), and that this should be explored further. (p22)
  • Important to provide work opportunities for people who may face very considerable challenges in getting employment, could be part of Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Need to map the jobs that will be obsolete, identify their replacements, ensure people are given the opportunity to re­skill to avail of emerging opportunities. (p36)

At the Dublin Regional Enterprise Plan to 2024 - Stakeholder Consultation Workshop held in September, 2021 one of the breakout groups focused on the strategic objective to Facilitate every individual to realise their full potential through engagement in economic activity. Most of the actions discussed at this workshop could be adapted for use across the country to support marginalised and disadvantaged communities, including:

  • the development of a ‘Knowledge Hub’ to provide online information and signposting on pathways to employment; and
  • provide targeted access to Digital Literacy and other IT related training.

In their March 2022 report, Experiences and Perceptions of Discrimination In Ireland (linked here), the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth noted that Unemployed adults reported the highest level of discrimination on average, ranging from 22% in 2010 to 30% in 2019. This was approximately twice the level of discrimination reported by individuals ‘in employment’, ranging from 11% in 2010 to 17% in 2019. (p8)

Self-employment can be an important access point to the labour market for people who face exclusion and discrimination in trying to get a job. An unemployed person in receipt of a Jobseeker’s Allowance payment can apply for a Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA). At present a participant could be on the BTWEA for up to two years. The INOU believes this should be increased to three years, with the participant receiving 50% of their social welfare payment in the third year.

In a White Paper dealing with enterprise policy in its totality such a change may appear too small to contemplate, but for the person who is facing barriers to employment because of their age, their ethnicity, where they live, the opportunity to create one’s own response could be life changing. It could also have a positive impact in the wider community as one person’s self-employment opportunity could grow into an enterprise that employs other people or inspires others to make such a move. To that end access to other supports and services available to micro and small enterprises will be essential.

The full submission is available on our website, linked here.